From Charles Babbage to Atari: A visit to the Computer History Museum

  • San Francisco (CA) - TG Daily was recently invited to attend Intel Research Day at the venerable Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. Although the company showcased a number of innovative products, I was inexplicably drawn to the museum's inner sanctum where once-precious artifacts from an ancient era were carefully preserved.

    I entered the digital cathedral, armed with little more than a camera and nostalgic memories of bygone years. Yet, I was not alone in my quest. As my eyes adjusted, I was able to discern the figures of exhausted pilgrims paying homage to Charles Babbage and his fabled Difference Engine.

    Far off in the distance, dedicated acolytes clustered around a shrine housing the impressive Commodore 2001 (PET). Others wept at an altar dedicated to the original Apple computer and spoke in hushed tones about Saint Stephen Jobs.

    Overwhelmed, I waded aimlessly through a sea of glass cases containing many potent relics. After a short respite, I resumed my journey and observed mechanical marvels too numerous to count. But there was little that could compare to what I found in the Holy of Holies. Indeed, I was absolutely captivated by "gaming devices" of varying shapes and sizes. According to the learned Elders, these magical devices once provided entire cities with hours of "entertainment."

    I stared speechless, utterly spellbound. Quivering with excitement, I located my ink bottle and quill and began to sketch the most memorable of artifacts. Many long hours passed, but I ignored hunger and exhaustion until the quill scraped noisily against an empty bottle. I quickly succumbed to the eddying darkness and awoke hours later outside the hallowed chambers of the grand cathedral.

    Dear reader, you may find elements of this tale beyond the realm of reason and possibility. Nevertheless, I beg you to reserve judgement until casting your eyes over the painstakingly reproduced portraits below. Sadly, the golden era of technology may have departed this world long ago, but it will live forever in our hearts.


    Ancient Japanese Mainframe


    Sony Hit Bit MSX


    Master personal computer, USSR, 1993


    Honeywell Kitchen Computer


    US Military Interface


    US Military Interface